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Optics Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock: Part 6

Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Arms S510XS
Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Meopta MeoPro Optika6 3-18X56-scope: Part 1
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • The tests
  • H&N Hollowpoint
  • H&N Baracuda with 5.50mm head
  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • Big test number two
  • Ten-shot group of 5.52mm heads
  • Ah-HA!
  • Ten shots of odd-head sizes 5.50 to 5.53mm except 5.52mm
  • Summary

Boy, did BB learn a lot today! This will spill over into tomorrow in a way you probably can’t guess.

Today I did the final accuracy test at 25 yards. I’m still learning about the Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock that will become mine for reasons I will share later. Today I tested the rifle with 4 pellets I hadn’t tried yet, plus I also shot two groups of pellets that were sorted by the Pelletgage. Let’s go!

The tests

I shot 5-shot groups at 25 yards with the four new pellets, just to see if any were worth further testing. Then I shot two 10-shot groups of Pelletgage sorted pellets. I will tell you more about that test when we get to it, so now lets look at the first 4 groups.

H&N Hollowpoint

The first pellet I loaded was an obsolete H&N Hollowpoint. It looks like nothing in the H&N .22 caliber line. The first pellet loaded very hard when I pushed the sidelever forward and it landed at 6 o’clock on the target. The second pellet hit the same bull at 12 o’clock and I knew something was up. Shot number three hit the clip holding the target to the backer board and the test was over. I shot the other two pellets into the backstop away from the target sheet.

S510XS H&N Hollowpoint group
The S510 threw shot one low, shot two high and shot three broke the target clip at 25 yards. Over!

H&N Baracuda with 5.50mm head

Next I tried five H&N Baracuda pellets with 5.50mm heads. They went into a vertical group measuring 0.577-inches between centers. Also not the pellet for this rifle.

S510XS H&N Baracuda group
Five H&N Baracudas with 5.50mm heads made this 0.577-inch group at 25 yards. Nope!

JSB Exact Jumbo

The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact Jumbo pellet that is quite similar to the Air Arms 16-grain Field pellet that has done so well with this rifle. And these didn’t disappoint. Five went into 0.221-inches between centers at 25 yards. Yippie! I have another good pellet for the rifle.

S510XS JSB Jumbo group
Five JSB Exact Jumbos made this nice round 0.221-inch group at 25 yards. Yep!

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

Next I tried five JSB Exact Jumbo RS domes. These are often surprisingly accurate — including in this S510! Five went into a 0.220-inch group. That is so close to the size of the heavier Jumbo group that either one could be better. Or both could be the same. Well done Air Arms!

S510XS JSB RS group
Five JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets went into 0.220-inches at 25 yards. Who can really tell which group is best? Yep, again!

Big test number two

Now it’s time to test pellets that are sorted by head size against pellets that are not sorted. I say they’re not sorted, but the way I selected them, they really ARE sorted in a backward way. And just wait to see what happened.

I sorted the Air Arms 16-grain domes that have done so well in testing up until now. I got pellets with heads measuring 5.50. 5.51, 5.52, and 5.53mm. Most of them (11) were sized 5.52mm, so that was the group I set aside to shoot as the sorted group. Then I chose the remaining 10 that measured anywhere from 5.50mm to 5.53mm. The only pellets that were not in this group were those with heads measuring 5.52mm. This second group is not random. It is selected from pellets of all sizes except 5.52mm. That will be important in a short while.

Ten-shot group of 5.52mm heads

I shot this group with the same extreme care that I have used throughout this test. That fabulous Meopta Optika6 scope is so clear that I know I wasn’t making errors of more than one one-hundredth of an inch! In other words, where, over the 10-dot of the bullseye, is the illuminated scope reticle dot (THAT APPEARS TO BE THE SAME SIZE) positioned?

I envisioned a group of 10 shots so small that it would hold a pellet. Instead, I was getting what for this pellet was a mediocre group. The first nine are in a hole that measures 0.363-inches between centers. HOWEVER! Shot number 10 landed down and away from the group, causing me to say, “Huh?”. That shot — which was done with the same precision as the other nine, opened the group to 0.425-inches between centers. Whaaaaaaat?

S510XS AA group 1
Huh? Ten Air Arms 16-grain domes with 5.52mm heads went into 0.425-inches at 25 yards. That wasn’t supposed to happen!


And then it hit me. I wonder if you have guessed what now seemed clear to me?

Just because there were more pellets in the tin with 5.52mm heads didn’t mean they were the best for this air rifle! I may have, in fact, selected the absolute WORST of these fine pellets to test this way. Duhh! Ha, ha, ha (laughing to keep from crying). Perhaps the next group would tell?

Ten shots of odd-head sizes 5.50 to 5.53mm except 5.52mm

Same pellet, assorted sizes with 5.53mm being the next most plentiful size. I think there were five of them.

And, the shots kept going to the same place! When it was over 10 pellets had gone intro 0.292-inches at 25 yards. Well, well! Didn’t old BB learn something?

S510XS AA group 2
The second group of 10 pellets of different sized heads measures 0.292-inches between centers.


I will summarize now, but this lesson isn’t over. I will be back tomorrow with more to add, though it won’t be anything you expect — I hope!

What I learned from this exercise is that sometimes the best pellet is not the one that’s also the most plentiful in the tin. A better test would have been to sort until I had enough pellets to test each head size. I have done that in the past, but this time I rushed things and look what happened. Still — I learned something very valuable. Did you?

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

80 thoughts on “Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock: Part 6”

  1. I love some BB in the evening, but since he is all about accuracy and we all miss his editor, here are a couple of errors for the grammar cops…feel free to delete this post when you can.
    “JSB Exact Jumbo
    The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact Jumbo pellet that is quite similar to the Air_Arms_Diabolo_Field_22_Cal_5_51mm_16_Grains_Domed_500ct/573″ >Air Arms 16-grain Field pellet that has done so well with this rifle. And these didn’t disappoint. Five went into 0.221-inches between centers bat 25 yards.”
    The link is defunct, and “at” vs. “bat” should be addressed. Also, the last sentence in the paragraph titled “Ten-shot group of 5.52 mm heads” combines dashes with a comma to delineate the phrase “which was done with the same precision as the other nine”. Revert to the dashes at the end of the phrase.
    These are not nits to pick; I just know you strive for the best!

  2. B.B.,

    This rifle has turned into a screamer in accuracy which is probably the reason you are not going to let it get away. My take on the Pelletgage exercise is that it is used to check for the consistency of production of a particular brand of pellet. Once that has been determined I would forget about subsequent sorting and simply shoot the pellet from the container. The Meopta may wander around occasionally (poorly for testing purposes) but I think this rifle will be where it will be spending most of its time mounted


  3. BB,

    I guess if I was seriously into FT I would have to get a Pelletgage. That could rack up some jack though if the best pellet was the least in number in a tin. What do you do with the rest? I know some would say use them for training, but that never made sense to me. Why would I want to train with pellets that are not the best I can get? How do you know the reason your group is so large? Is it you or the pellet?

    • RR
      That’s exactly why I don’t want to compete with air guns. I have completed in numerous things. And when you do and your serious with winning you end up going through alot of trouble and money to get things right.

      Like what you mentioned. Say 60% of your pellets you sort make your gun very accurate. The other 40% out of the tin just don’t produce the same results as the other 60% your gun likes. So if I was competing in say a field target match and I was serious about winning I would only be using those known good pellets. I wouldn’t even think about using the 40% that don’t work in competition. That’s part of winning the ball game if you know what I mean. Use what you know works.

      Now that other 40% that don’t work in that gun would be saved to try in other guns since they have been sorted already.

      On the other hand if I was casual shooting at home at occasional targets to verify how the gun and I am shooting that day then plinking after some target shots. Well I would just use the pellets straight from the tin. And of course that would be with the pellets that I already decided was best for that gun.

      That’s how I would play the ball game in both instances as far as field target competition or at home casual target shooting and plinking goes.

        • RR
          You made this comment.
          “What do you do with the rest?”

          As in the sorted pellets that don’t work in that particular gun.

          I replied.
          “Now that other 40% that don’t work in that gun would be saved to try in other guns since they have been sorted already.”

          Just wondering if you caught that in my reply. Basically the work is done. Just label them and save them then try them in another gun.

          At least that way I wouldn’t feel like I was just wasting those pellets. And of course that would be if I was competing. For the shooting I do and I know how the accuracy is with my guns with out of the tin pellets I use. I’m absalutly fine with (NOT) sorting. Just say’n.

    • Hey RR,

      weather indicates a Low coming up from the Gulf hitting our area Saturday afternoon and continuing through the night. Not wanting to drive 250 miles in the rain at night (been there, done that in my younger days when I could still see well at night), I’m going to head to NC Friday.

      I hate to miss seeing you again after all these years. Let me know if you will show up Friday and I’ll hang around. Take care,

      I am going to bring with me an unknown mfg Chinese air pistol that looks a bit like an HW70. It needs seals, shooting in the 240 fps range and I’m wondering if HW70 hardware will fit it. Pistol is in the box and I’m looking for $35.

      Fred formerly of the DPRoNJ now happily in GA

      • Fred,

        “Missed him by that much.”

        I am afraid Friday is not gonna happen for me. I am certain they would like me to work Saturday, but that ain’t gonna happen neither.

        We’ll catch up with each other sooner or later. Maybe we can get Tom in on it also.


  4. BB
    Seems like this Air Arms rifle/scope combination has brought some real enthusiasm back into your life. Perhaps it’s a bit clearer now when I said whenever I want to really hit something I go for my FX Independence. You do get what you pay for and can avoid a lot of tinkering to improve others unless it’s just for the challenge and enjoyment.

    I can totally see how that scope can really improve on target shooting and perhaps long range shooting being so clear. But for back yard pest control my simple UTG 4X Hunter works just fine for the money.
    Extreme one hole accuracy is a joy to behold and making the most of it with a quality scope is icing on the cake.. I just don’t need that much accuracy, for now so I set my bubble scope and its weight aside till I do.

    Off topic a bit. Turning 72 and watching a friend of over 35 years fade away into dementia while my ex is failing in health has instilled a sense of urgency to clear up the dozens of major unfinished projects and situations in my life and I have put air gunning and blog entries on hold. Still reading but mostly playing catch up for a week or so and bypassing many that don’t spark my interest. I’m trying to compress 20 years of work into the next ten!

    I haven’t lost interest, just the time I can spend on it. Just got a Glock 19x and have two others on back order.

    Bob M

      • GF1
        Nothing ever slips by you unnoticed for comment. You are sharp!
        Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule. Just like millionaires never live in old mobile homes.

        You can drive fast in an expensive Ford GT or you can drive fast in a modified Shelby Mustang. In general the GT will always do better in handling it. That’s what it was designed to do in the first place with confidence and reliability. It’s the complete package with all the options that makes it so enjoyable. Same with an expensive air gun.
        Not to say there is not a dog of a Ford GT out there some place but I doubt one ever leaves the company that way.
        Bob M

        • Ha. That’s a pretty good metaphor. I was just thinking about how I’m just about as accurate as this AA with a 97k. But I’ve put a lot of work into it, both in technique and tuning.

          • Edw
            If you put a price on all the labor and time you spent on improving your 97k you might find you just broke even?
            You traded your time and talent to finish it off for the additional cost of the factory doing it.
            It cost you time and labor instead of money. Nothing wrong with that if you have more time and talent than money and enjoy doing it or if you simply want to save money.

            And we cant use this AA rifle for price comparison. It’s an entirely different air rifle. Not sure which underlever has the best accuracy from the factory and cost the most for a cost comparison.
            Bob M

        • Bob
          I like the ones that get from point A to point B the quickest. Not necessarily the fastest. And the cheaper the better.

          I was talking about cars not air guns. Air guns are similar though. I just like my guns to be accurate. And again the cheaper the better as long as they produce the results I’m looking for.

  5. I don’t know what your reason for keeping the 510 is yet, but I couldn’t/wouldn’t let her go either if I were in your shoes. This air gun/scope combo would be my first purchase after winning the lottery.

  6. Hello, my name is Hank and I sort my pellets.

    Well, I don’t sort all of them but will check at least 50 from each can as a spot-check on the consistency of that batch.

    One exercise that I have found interesting is to take three pellets from extreems (lightest and heaviest; smallest and largest) and shoot a group with them. Theoretically (dangerous word that), that would represent the worst case scenario for that pellet if selected at random from the tin. I usually shoot several of these groups at 40 yards to check the results. I often see “sub-groups” of pellets that have a slightly different POI than the others.

    Once I determine the most consistent pellet for that rifle I will sight in with that pellet and reserve that size for special use (checking zero, serious target shooting and hunting). Some of the other sizes will group quite well though the POI may be shifted slightly so I use those for practice. The remaining “not prefered” sizes are put aside for plinking or possible use in another rifle.

    Sorting pellets is not so tedious if you are well set up. I made a sorting table – an inclined surface that holds small plastic cups – and added colored dots to match the ones I put on my pelletgages so sorting is fast.

    Here is a picture of my setup if anyone is interested.

    • Hank, your approach is a solid one! Do you ever examine the back recess of the pellet, where the tooling pushes the slug into the swage die? I have seen reports where this is visibly different, and that it has an effect on grouping. I was first warned about this by the NC FT shooter who just won nationals. He uses a Pelletgage, but he told me this was the biggest issue he has seen with the pellets he shoots in competition.

      • Jerry,

        I inspect the pellets as I am sorting them and never noticed obvious/serious deformation caused from the swaging die. I just checked some .22 and .25 JSB pellets and they look fine, some of the .22 Crosman pellets were a little rougher.

        You would think that any tooling marks on the inside of the skirt would be invisible to the airflow; as long as the swaging was concentric and the skirt geometry was not compromised that all would be ok.

        The probe on the rifle contacts the inside of the skirt and must leave some sort of mark/dent in the lead when it chambers the pellet. Can’t see this as being a problem unless the probe removes/displaces enough lead to cause the pellet to be unbalanced.

        I might try mutilating the inside of the skirt on a couple of pellets to see if it affects the flight or POI.

        My pet theory about “fliers” is that they are caused by a pellet being forced into the bore when it is off axis, canting it relative to the bore and possibly deforming it.

        • Hank, I refer to visible changes in the ID of the pellet’s recess due to the punch that pushes the slug into the swage die. I’ve seen those myself. And of course the concentricity of that recess would affect the rotational stability, like a top spinning badly if the center of mass was off axis.

          • Jerry,

            The change in ID would imply that the all the die probes are not set to the same depth or that there are inconsistencies in the volume of the slug and that was affecting the swaging.

            I’ll take another look later. Raining, cold and windy right now so it is a good time to sort some pellets.

      • B.B.

        I started off using an egg carton as well. Found it awkward to remove the pellets when I wanted store them in pill bottles.

        The sorting table works well. The “dixie cups” are convenient but they are a bit too deep (didn’t like dropping the pellets) and they could be bumped over easily so I made the inclined holder to resolve both issues.

        I just like to have things neat – my wife says that is my OCD showing through LOL!

    • Hank,

      Those colored dots are pretty slick, Son. Those laser etched numbers are one of the things that I don’t like about P’gages. I use a small Hornady scale and have noticed that it doesn’t always measure the same pellet as the same weight. What scale are you using and do you ever have that problem with it?


      • Half,

        Glad you like the dots – told you I don’t take too much notice of the numbers – I can match up the colors pretty good though LOL!

        I am using a “Smart Weigh GEM20” scale ( https://www.amazon.com/Smart-Weigh-GEM20-Precision-Milligram/dp/B00ESHDGOI ) and have no complaints. Repeatability is pretty good and the scale is fairly quick to settle. For $20 it does what I need – it’s not like I am weighting diamonds or anything like that.

        The scale is very sensitive so I make sure to let it acclimatize for a while when I bring it upstairs to work at my desk. I am careful not to breath on it, move around or bump the desk when I am taking the measurements.

        I made an “anvil” to place the pellet on so it always sits in the exact same place on the scale platten. Find it is a lot faster to balance the pellet on it’s nose than trying to standing it up on it’s skirt. It’s nothing fancy, I just cut off a 30-06 brass casing to a comfortable height and drilled a “dimple” into the primer to balance the pellet in.

        A couple of other conveniences to make sorting go faster… I modified a pair of tweezers so that they fit around the pellet waist to hold it lightly and use a pellet can (fixed to create a depression in the foam) as a tray to prevent the pellets from escaping and makes them easy to pick up.


        • Hank,

          I mean this in the kindest and most respectable way, but my eyes glassed over a little bit at “I made an anvil to place…….” LOL. The world has to have people like you in it, but most are gonna be like me, I’m afraid!! But I will wholeheartedly defend your dots ’til my dying day. Thanks for getting back to me about the scale. Mine may do better if I take more precautions.


  7. Surprising result, Tom. I would always agree, pellet head size is not the only determinant. Your ten shot group with 5.52 sorted pellets had one flyer. You check head size for about 21 pellets, and they were all 5.50-5.53 with most being 5.52. That’s a small sample (10% of the tin would be better) but indicates pretty good control. I’m guessing that the nominal size, although JSB Jumbo 15.9 are offered in 5.50, 5.51, or 5.52 mm head sizes.

    My suggested use is to take 50 pellets from a new tin, check them all. If you ordered 5.52 pellets, a “good” tin should have a mean head size of 5.51/5.53, and no more than one pellet with greater than 0.01 mm from the mean (not nominal) size. This is based on an old MIL-STD 105 lot by lot acceptance standard, created for sampling military ammunition lots. It assures 90% confidence that no pellet is outside 2 sigma limits.

    I pose a question (or two) – if variance in head size is not important, why do pellet manufacturers offer pellets in specific nominal sizes? And maybe, why is it that we see such deviations as you found, and seem to be quite common?

    So, I think most rifled barrels can tolerate the kind of head size variance you saw. However, many reports from users tell me that some rifles have a limit on either high or low size. That is, once you reach that upper (or lower) size limit, the patterns open up a lot. Certain barrel types seem to have more sensitivity than others.

    And, occasionally there are tins that have either a shift of >0.02 mm between nominal and mean size, or excessive variation. Many reports come to me showing variations that are bound to affect groups. The image shows several sorted tins of .177 JSB pellets that ranged from 4.47 to 4.53. I’m certain that kind of variance will show up in group size (and POI) shifts.

    All this relates to a concern that I have – tins of pellets ought to have labels that indicate lot control numbers, and the nominal head size of the pellet. All too often, this key information is missing or hidden.

    My personal opinion (influenced my a very large amount of correspondence with my customers) is that JSB is doing a good job with process control. They are the dominant choice of competitive shooters, and second place is embarassingly far back. Field target and bench rest shooters are extremely selective with their ammo, they test, compare, adjust, and a great many of them care about head size.

  8. Interesting results, I would guess the rifle prefers 5.53 pellets, not 5.52. Also, the 5.50 pellets may have opened up
    the .292″ group from what it might have been. And the pellets were not weight sorted. But the rifle shoots several
    types of JSB well, meaning it is not too pellet picky.
    But if you are shooting at an aperture that is .25″, .177 would get you in there more often, all things being equal,
    which they are not.
    I just shoot from the tin, but I am just getting more into it, we shall see.
    Good shooting!

  9. Ok here is a question.

    Has anyone been shooting a tin of pellets that are pretty consistent for that brand to be known good pellets. And in multiple guns. And the first 1/3 of the tin the guns are shooting good. The the 2nd 1/3 of the tin and the guns start grouping bigger. Then all of a sudden the last 1/3 of the tin the guns are just shooting excellent. To the point that I want to save what’s left of that tin just because they are so darn good grouping.

    And this is shooting one particular day starting in the morning and ending in the evening. With breaks inbetween of course and weather conditions the same all day. Basically one of those nice real calm days.

    Those are the days that make me think about a tin of pellets.

  10. B.B. and esteemed readership,

    Please keep sorting your pellets! I’ll tell you about a great place to send those rejected pellets. Stop the clutter shootski’s casting pot needs to give those sad pellet failures a home! So collect and send me your (those of you in the USA) rejected lead pellets. I might even cover the S&H!!!!!!
    I need to see how the lead weight price stacks up on those flat rate USPS mailers compared to bulk purchases of pure lead…Lol. I promise at a minimum they will join together and find a new lease on life as my Big Bore Slugs!

    In all seriousness I need to ask all of you a question or three or more:
    I can see head diameter as a potential accuracy factor [have you sluged your barrel(s)?] but does a sizeing gage measure skirt or head diameter? If it measures skirt size on a pellet does that mean a smaller diameter head can wobble down the bore? Even If you slug your barrel(s) are the barrel(s) the same diameter (cylinder) all the way? OR, are they “choked” at some point; perhaps not even near the muzzle? Have you thought about the fact that the accuracy gain might be psychologically influenced? You just spent all that time weighing & sorting (W&S) so you concentrate harder on your entire shooting process to prove all that W&S time was worthwhile. Has anyone done a reliable and documented double bind test(s) of W&S pellets? Would it be replicateable? I guess if you check to see how much quality your money was buying you that would be one valid reason to do some W&S.
    I have my doubts on the efficacy of much more than coarse visual inspection and weighing the smaller pellet calibers if you have already done all the other necessary things to achieve accurate and repeatable shooting.

    Just my opinion on the Never Ending Debate about ammunition and it’s effect on marksmanship.


    • Shootski
      I use to weigh, head sort, waste sort, skirt sort, overall length sort and poor some beer on them and let them set in the sun for a day on a nice mild 80° summer day. Then oil the barrel. And shoot about 30 shots before I shot at a target.

      By time I was done with all that I only had 10 excellent pellets to shoot. And I’ll be darn if I still didn’t get 2 flyers out of the group of 10.

      I was so bummed out I didn’t even want to look at a pellet let alone try to shoot it. I felt anxiety even. Almost like a anxiety attack. You know what I did? I grabbed a brand new never opened tin of pellets and I shot. No sorting no pouring beer on them no baking them in the sun. I just plain ole shot them right out of the tin. Guess what, low and behold a nice round clover leafed 10 shot group. I was so happy. I even stuck it out and kept shooting. And I never looked back. I was cured. No more sorting for me. Just shoot and see what happens. I’ll tell ya. I have much more fun that way. And actually have learned a thing or two about my pellets. My air guns and about me and how I shoot. Oh happy days. 🙂

    • Shootski,

      No lead from me either – I make my own fishing weights, jigs and slingshot pellets! Now if I could just find a way to seperate the lead from the Duct-Seal in the target box I’d really be set.

      I shoot (mostly) JSBs and find that they are consistently quite consistent – I trust them but that doesn’t stop me from checking 50 or so from each tin just to make sure that all is good.

      Think that .177 and .22 are fairly sensitive to weight variances in manufacturing but as the pellets/slugs get heavier it is less so.

      I have checked other brands of pellets and found some major variances on weights and sizes in a tin. In one can there was half a dozen piles with 60 to 90 pellets in a pile. Yeah, those got melted down.

      I agree that it might just be a confidence thing but I see better groups from the sorted pellets. It makes sense that the rifle will react differently to different weights and different head sizes and basically it is the same process of elimination that we go through in searching for the golden pellet. I have a couple of “sampler packs” of different head sizes and there is a definite change in group size between the pellets.

      I have Crosman, Walther Lothar, Weihrauch and FX (Smooth Twist) barrels and, in shooting JSBs, it seems that the FX barrel is least sensitive to pellet variations and the Walther Lothar barrel the most sensitive. No idea why.

      When shooting over the Chrony, I have often wondered how much of the ES is the power plant and how much is variance in the pellet. What might be noticeable in a gun with a low ES would probably be lost in the ground-noise of a high ES one.

      The lighting on my shooting range is such that I can see most of the pellets in flight (if I watch for them) and will usually notice a flier as it happens – I am still trying to figure out what causes fliers and sorting pellets is a way to help reduce the variables.

      Wish there was a way to do a survey of the serious target shooters and the FT people to see how many of them sort for serious matches.

      Anyway, will continue sorting for now… she loves me; she loves me not LOL!


      • Vana2,

        Hank I stopped using Duct-Seal at least two decades ago in pellet traps. I do have some number of pounds (lifetime supply) of it that I use for the air ducts in the basement. I replaced the Duct-Seal with melted down church candle stubs and some number of pounds of wax that was bought from a company that sold surplus candles. I looked for a link but can’t find it. I use a steel V shaped trap with a 4″x 3′ black pipe split lengthwise and spread to fit lips at the base of the trap V. The pipe is filled with melted wax and when it fills with Lead I simply slide the pipe off the trap lips, melt the wax out of the pipe through a metal mesh into a metal can. The Lead stays in the metal mesh and the wax drips into the can ready for reuse to fill the length of split pipe. I don’t use the trap for Big Bore slugs those go into a range slag berm or prey if hunting.


        • Shootski,

          It’s getting time to replace my Duct-Seal so I think I will give your idea a try as I already have several pounds of wax that I can use. Like that the lead can be reclaimed easily.

          On my shooting range I have 12 to 14 inch thick, 18 inch diameter white pine logs standing on three legs as “lead-catchers”. I just burn them when I am done.


      • Hank,

        I use a steel plate trap indoors. Splat and fall to the bottom. No duct seal. I did try it and hated it. It might be good for deformation upon impact comparisons though,… which I have done. Beyond that,…. no.


      • Hank

        “My pet theory about “fliers” is that they are caused by a pellet being forced into the bore when it is off axis, canting it relative to the bore and possibly deforming it.”

        These words from you earlier has me thinking (dangerous thing) this head damage may be the reason some rifles shoot fliers more than others. Maybe the loading design leads to breech alignment problems ever so often. Lubing all 10 pellets may overcome this?

        Lots of interesting comments here about fliers which are my number 1 enemy. One comment about skirt distortion; someone did an exhausting test on bent skirts 3-5 years ago and found no accuracy correlation.


        • Decksniper,

          I think you are on to a possibility Deck!

          If the transition cone from the breech to the rifled barrel (Leade) is properly sized in length and diameter reduction rate I would doubt a missfeed to the bore axis of a pellet would be much of a possibility. If on the other hand the pellet “jumps” into the rifled bore all bets are off. Who knows what kind of off axis swaging would happen and how differently each and every load-bolt push-fire cycle. That consistent loading is why I try to let my bolt do the work of seating the pellet/bullet and not try to use a separate seater. If you load a round and then push it back out you can get a good look at what has happened to the round. On my Big Bores I use lengths of properly sized plastic pipette fitted to the bolt face to push the round incrementally to see what and how much engraving occures during the transition. Of course if I get good accuracy/repeatability to begin with I just smile and shoot with NO further Worries!


          • Shootski

            What pellet imprint is good and does pushing it back out add a variable to the mix? Guessing if one of many pellets looks different then you get rid of it. You have reason to be using the plastic spacers so it works.


            • Decksniper,

              I’m not shooting many pellets these days in new airguns or new barrels so my work is mostly as new bullets become available or I get a new mold for casting them. The pellet shooters I have are mostly high end 10 Meter target rifles that have known accurate pellet pairings. On the big bore bullets “What (bullet) imprint is good and does pushing it back out add a variable to the mix?” To answer your question first I’ll touch on the bullets and then go back to the pellet experience in small bore.
              First off I subscribe to the oversized bullet/ball by at minimum 0.001 compared to the actual measured bore school of thought. Right there you know that at the end of the bolt throw at least part of the bullet will/may be engraved by the lands and grooves. I’m first looking for the Leade to not have swaged or even smeared the Ogive of the bullet. By gently pushing from the muzzle (with a wood dowel of slightly less than Land diameter and a Dewey Rod handle that spins freely) back out I can keep that variable to a minimum. Since it is done in small increments you can see which part of loading is causing what effect. The last step is to close the bolt all the way and then push the round back out (as described above) to see how or if the round has engaged the rifling and if it looks to be clean in nature. The incremental spacers are used to see how far short of the rifling the bolt stops pushing when fully closed. If I find a new different length bullet if it isn’t accurate enough then the incremental push is used to see if I need to get a longer bolt made for that round. My opinion is that most Big Bores do best when the rifling has done 1/4 or more of the engraving of the bullet at bolt closed. I believe I’m in good company on that ideation with many of the breech loading “black” powder shooters and I think most patched muzzle loader shooters would agree since they seem to go to a little trouble to let the patched ball spin in the rifling while loading. Hank talks about finger seating and I have done that but only when I want to feel how smoothly the trip from the loading trough to rifling is. As an example the forward breech screw on the old Crosman 13XX & 22XX was a known pellet damage point that a drop of wax could eliminate. Much less known was how much damage a trip over a Transfer Port could cause; even if it didn’t have a burr that shaved the pellet. How much accuracy does an inline TP, or a flow through bolt, or a bolt probe that pushes a pellet beyond the TP whilst (for the Kings English readers) keeping it from dragging over same. I’m not big on repeaters since that offends my KISS principal. I even carved out of Delrin a single pellet loading trough for my 1st generation .22 Marauder before any were available on the aftermarket. The Leade and barrel “jump” on 1st generation Marauders was horrible. With a little work all that could be fixed but you needed to know what needed to be done first until the pellet made it to the barrel mostly in a pristine condition. The magazines were not even given a thought for testing since they did not even insert into the receiver (my opinion) with much precision.

              Fortunately my Big Bores are most all made by Dennis Quackenbush and as long as you pay attention to his recommendations his builds have you covered. I know that is a far cry from what the typical mass manufacturers deliver but it sounds like some are getting close. AirForce certainly appears to with the Texan line and others seem to be moving into the .30 caliber.

              I hope that provides a bit of clarification.


              • Shootski

                Have been away a few days. Thanks for your detailed info. Years ago I reloaded firearms barely neck sizing cases thus easily controlling the jump. Accuracy could improve but this is a bad idea except for single hand loading. I stopped this practice when my grandchildren began shooting with me. My safety caution here does not apply to airguns known to me. In those days the optimum location in some guns was to chamber the bullet flush to the lands/grooves eliminating jump. I do wonder if this may apply to some airguns. Benchrest professionals would know.


                • Decksniper,

                  Info für on the elimination of jump on firearms and not letting them engrave. The pressure on airguns (at least for the time being with 4,500 PSI being the new must have valve pressure!) is only a fraction of what a powder cartridge/bullet generate prior to the bullet departing down the barrel. I have seen muzzleloader barrels with walnuts from apparent “short seating” so I can only imagine what a centerfire EVENT would be like. Fortunately most folks who handload/reload don’t do dumb things for long…. For now we only have overpressurized tubes or cylinders to worry about.


                  • Shootski

                    May be telling you what you already know. If so maybe some reader would like to know this. Neck sizing fired brass in a specific firearm is common practice and safe. Brass lasts much longer due to less stretching. Doesn’t work well in semi auto guns because the chamber fit can be too snug. But for bolt action and single shot guns it is fine as long as reloaded rounds are dedicated to one specific gun only, every gun being different. My “bad” was a round loaded with the bullet not held by the brass case firmly enough to cycle through a bolt action rifle. The result was the bullet and some powder came out of the case. No accident but not a good thing either. I had not adjusted my press to squeeze the brass case neck enough.

                    Have a good day!


        • Deck,

          I don’t think that the skirts would be too much of a problem as they are soft and ductile enough that unless they are severely mashed they should get blown back into shape to fit the bore.

          Lubing is not going to help much if there is a misalignment between the magazine, the pellet probe, the leed-in to the bore or any other thing that snag the pellet and cant it relative to the bore and the rifling (if applicable).

          Agree that manufacturing finishes and tolerances could contribute to how likely a rifle will cant a pellet or not. Could be that a bit of spit and polish in the input side of the bore would help.

          Think when a pellet that is canted gets hit with blast of HPA there is a good chance that it will bend at the waist and not fly true when it leaves the bore. I have to try bending some pellets (slightly!) and testing the flight.

          The whole thing of hand-feeding the pellet is that the flesh on the finger distributes the force to seat the pellet more evenly and there is less chance of it being cock-eyed when the probe (if applicable) comes along to push the pellet into place. On my TX200 FWB 300 and FWB 603 I can clearly feel the pellet seat into place.

          Yeah, hate it when you have a good group going, sight picture is right on, trigger breaks perfectly and the pellet does a jog off to one side. DOH!!!


    • Shootski,

      While I have looked into pellet sizers,… I do not have one. The T Robb brand as I recall was one. It is adjustable and supposedly only sizes the head and not the skirt. For me, that feature seems desirable. I would want the skirt to fit well/tight.

      Even sized,.. the barrel will resize it. So,… it really comes down to the interference fit control.

      My 2 cents,….. Chris

      • Chris USA,

        “The T Robb brand as I recall was one. It is adjustable and supposedly only sizes the head and not the skirt.”. I’m confused Chris does the device measure the pellet head as a pellet gage does or actually act as a Sizing Die that swages the pellet to a slightly smaller diameter?

        I bought one of the Beeman Deluxe Pellet Sizers (now a Collectable no doubt) and a big expensive collection of Die that varied from the base diameter in increments of thousandths. They must be in the basement somewhere near the Duct-Seal!


        • Shootski,

          As I recall,… it is 100% adjustable for head size. It does not measure,…. so yes,… a sizing die. To do that, you would have to size/adjust it, push a pellet in and back out and then measure it with something like a pellet gage. Finding large enough pellets to (down) size might be a factor though.

          I do not have time to shoot as of late,… let alone head and weigh sort ,…. so I will likely not be exploring sizing anytime soon. Probably a good thing. 😉


  11. B.B.

    This series of articles reminds me of the Beach Boys song, “California Girls”.
    Well I wish that all airguns were are accurate as this one is! Otherwise, why bother?


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